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Customers struggling with returns are losing thousands

eBay, ParcelPointTwo in three online shoppers could be losing hundreds of dollars by not returning low-cost items, a new survey has found.

Commissioned by parcel delivery service CouriersPlease, the survey found that 66 percent of respondents wouldn’t return an item purchased online if it was valued under $50.

The major barriers to returning online items were cited as inconvenience, cost and barriers of returning in store.

Returns have emerged as a pain point for Australia’s fast-growing retail delivery sector, with increasing customer expectations driving demand for better service.

“[CouriersPlease] understands that returning purchases is a headache, especially for online shopping,” said Jessica Ip, head of commercial and transformation at CouriersPlease.

While a litany of industry executives have conceded that re-delivery or re-routing goods is costly and inconvenient for shoppers, better options are still being understood.

Some retailers, such as Winning Group owned Appliances Online, have invested in AI technology to shorten expected delivery windows significantly, making it easier for customers to accept bulky goods.

“It sounds crazy, but [customers] will know what day things will be delivered,” Winning Group chief John Winning has said of the initiative.

“I’ve waited for enough parcels myself, you’re waiting for Australia Post, you don’t get it today or tomorrow and then the next day, you get a card under your door. It’s not a great experience.”

The Couriers Please commissioned survey found  that 37 per cent of respondents would be motivated to return an unwanted item if they could do it in store, while 29 per cent would rather a courier to pick the item up for return.

Ip said that while much of the focus of shopping online falls to faster delivery times, there is obviously a need to facilitate a seamless and easy returns process.

27 percent of respondents were willing to take the unwanted items to a post office or parcel drop off point, such as a newsagent.

Drop-off points have emerged as a potential solution in industry recently, with Australia Post and Ebay both trialling parcel locker-style services and others like Super Retail Group considering third party partnerships that would leverage their store networks for use by online retailers.

A third of respondents (33 per cent) were more likely to return a purchase made in store than online, despite the added inconvenience.

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